News / USA

Americans Want Smaller, More Efficient Government

Vera Roybal, right, of Las Vegas, reads flyers at a temporary employment agency table during a job fair in Las Vegas, where unemployment rate is 14.7 percent, 05 Oct 2010
Vera Roybal, right, of Las Vegas, reads flyers at a temporary employment agency table during a job fair in Las Vegas, where unemployment rate is 14.7 percent, 05 Oct 2010

Most of the 50 US states have struggled to close budget gaps by reducing public services, raising taxes or borrowing. A new study says Americans want leaner and more efficient government to deal with the budget crises. The survey shows that residents of five key US states share a sense of frustration and urgent desire to reform the budget process.

After the worst recession in 70 years and drastic drops in tax revenue, state governments are scrambling to balance their budgets. In California, lawmakers are working to close a 19 billion dollar shortfall. California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger last year imposed three-day-a-month furloughs on many state workers as a cost-cutting measure, and a court this week said that, despite a challenge by the workers, the measure is legal.

California was one of the five states in the survey, together with Arizona, Florida, Illinois and New York. Residents of each state face similar problems of high unemployment, a bleak real estate market and reduced tax revenues. Each has seen conflicting demands to raise taxes and save government programs, on one hand, or cut taxes and slash programs, on the other.

Susan Urahn of the Pew Center on the States says researchers see consistent responses from state to state on what the public wants. Four in ten respondents want smaller government, and even more are worried about waste.

"The real question is not how small or how large government ultimately should be, but how state leaders can demonstrate they are reducing waste, making government more efficient, and maximizing returns on taxpayer dollars," she said.

The survey shows that spending cuts are the most popular way to bring budgets under control. But a majority of respondents are willing to pay higher taxes to preserve elementary and high school education, and health services.

Urahn says that schools, health and social services are, in reality, the biggest recipients of state dollars, so that shielding them from cuts will be difficult.

Mark Baldassare of the Public Policy Institute of California says respondents resist public borrowing, the passing of debt to future generations.

"When it comes to how to close their state's budget gap, more than two thirds of residents in all five states pick spending cuts first," he said. "They prefer tax increases second, and then borrowing."

Voters would like to raise taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and gambling, and also raise corporate taxes. But Baldassare says revenue from these sources would do little to close huge budget gaps.

The analysts say the public has a sense of urgency, but is not fully aware of the trade-offs needed to balance a public budget. They say political leaders have a lot of work to do in educating the public about the tough choices they face.

The analysts say that after the election in November, at least half of US states will have first-term governors who will face competing demands from a skeptical public over taxes and spending, and a rigid bottom line in their state budgets.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs